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Dr. Death

The Most Famous Wrestling Tragedies in History, Part 2:

Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.
After some trial and error, I am back with the second part of my blog of wrestling tragedies. As you may have noticed, I did not list these by importance, but by birth date of the wrestler(s) in question forming a time line if you will. You will also notice that each part has old and new wrestlers - somewhat. Now that I've explained that, lets move on with the blog.

Counting Down The Most Famous Pro Wrestling Tragedies:

Big John Studd: {February 19, 1948 – March 20, 1995} Age: 47; Studd died from liver cancer and Hodgkin's disease on March 20, 1995.

Standing 6 foot 10 and weighing in at 364 pounds, John "Big John Studd" Minton was a mountain of a man who dominated his competition, and his legendary rivalries with Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan in the mid-1980s are considered some of the greatest of that era. He was also trained by Killer Kowalski.

"Crusher" Jerry Blackwell: {April 26, 1949 - January 22, 1995} Age: 45; Jerry Blackwell died on January 22, 1995 due to complications from pneumonia.

He held the AWA tag titles with Ken Patera. For a man of over 400 pounds he was very athletic, and was able to do a "standing dropkick," which was considered an amazing feat for a man of his size.

Adrian Adonis: {September 12, 1954 – July 4, 1988} Age: 33; Adonis was killed on July 4, 1988 in Lewisporte, Newfoundland and Labrador while riding in a minivan with fellow wrestlers William "Mike Kelly" Arko, Victor "Pat Kelly" Arko, and Dave "Wildman" McKigney. Adonis, McKigney and Pat Kelly were killed when the driver, Mike Kelly, swerved in order to avoid hitting a moose and, blinded by the setting sun, inadvertedly drove into a lake. Mike Kelly survived, albeit with severe leg injuries. Adonis was decapitated.

Keith Franke may not have been known as the greatest wrestler who ever lived, but there's no doubt that, as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, he definitely had one of the more memorable styles in professional wrestling.

Jay Youngblood: {June 21, 1955 - September 1, 1985} Age: 30; Youngblood died in Melbourne, Australia, where he ruptured his spleen in a match and had a series of heart attacks when rushed to the back, where he died.

He was a 2x NWA United States Tag Team Champion, NWA Canadian TV Champion, 3x NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion, 5x NWA World Tag Team Champion, NWA Canadian Tag Team Champion, NWA Pacific Coast Heavyweight Champion, NWA Western States Tag Team Champion, 4x NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion, NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champion, One half of the Tag Team of the Year (1983) with Ricky Steamboat. Needless to say, this was a great loss to wrestling when Youngblood died.

Hercules Hernandez: {May 7, 1957 - March 6, 2004} Age: 46; Hernandez died in his sleep in his home on March 6, 2004. The cause of death was attributed to heart disease.

Though Hernandez had notable success in many promotions during the early eighties, most fans will remember him as the chain-swinging backbone of Bobby Heenan’s heel stable in the WWE. Although Hernandez never achieved main event status there, the muscle-bound powerhouse was a solid mainstay of the promotion making his presence felt in WrestleManias 2 through 7.

Road Warrior Hawk: {Born Sept 12th 1957. Died Oct 19th 2003} Age: 46; Michael James Hegstrand died on October 19, 2003 in the early morning at about 1am in his home in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. He had died of an apparent heart attack, after laying down to take a nap. He constantly battled alcohol and drugs.

Even the most casual wrestling fans are familiar with Hawk and Animal, the infamous Road Warriors, also known as The Legion of Doom. They were the most impressive looking tag team in the history of wrestling and certainly the most imitated. Hawk was the one whose trademark growl was "Oh What A Rush". The Road Warriors are the only tag team in the history of wrestling to hold the WWF, NWA, AWA and All Japan tag team titles. As groundbreaking a phenomenon as they were in their WWF hey day, their stardom was unsurpassed in Japan where Hawk’s death made front page headlines.

David Von Erich: {July 22, 1958 – February 10, 1984} Age: 25; David died during a tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling on February 10, 1984, his death was caused by a heart attack, caused by ruptured intestines resulting from acute enteritis.

Throughout his entire career, David attempted to achieve nothing but excellence in his athletic endeavors. If excellence is measured by attainment of championship titles and becoming the object of unmatched admiration by his peers and by millions of wrestling fans around the world, then David Von Erich certainly reached that pinnacle of excellence be was striving for. David Von Erich achieved much in his 25 years on this earth, and as long as we remember those achievements, as long as we recall the excellence that is David Von Erich, he will never be gone. Not from our hearts, nor from the pages of wrestling’s history books.

Rick "Ravishing Rick" Rood: {December 7, 1958 – April 20, 1999} Age: 40; Rude died on April 20, 1999 after suffering heart failure. An autopsy report showed he died from an overdose of "mixed medications".

Rick Rude (Rood), went to high school with Tom Zenk and Nikita Koloff and trained with Eddie Sharkey, who also trained the Road Warriors, Curt Hennig, and Barry Darsow. In his heyday, Rude was a foil of the highest order and a legitimate spectacle; it was nearly impossible to turn away when he was on the screen. But more important than the way we watched him was his effect on the way we watched wrestling. In a metaphorical sense, Rude pulled wrestling's pants down and revealed it for what it was. It was a necessary development in the sport's evolution. In 1994, during a match with Sting in Japan, Rude was dropped awkwardly — some would say recklessly — onto the edge of a steel platform outside the ring and injured his neck, functionally ending his wrestling career.

Rhonda Sing (Monster Ripper): {February 21, 1961 – July 27, 2001} Age: 40; On July 27, 2001 Rhonda Sing died due to a drug overdose which caused a heart attack.

After training with Mildred Burke, she wrestled in Japan under the name Monster Ripper. In 1987, she returned to Canada and began working with Stampede Wrestling, where she was their first Stampede Women's Champion. In 1995, she worked in the World Wrestling Federation as the comedic character Bertha Faye, winning the WWF Women's Championship.

The British Bulldog: {Born Nov 28th 1962. Died May 18th 2002} Age: 39; Davey Boy Smith died on May 18, 2002, after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Invermere, British Columbia. An autopsy revealed that past anabolic steroid use may have played a part in his death, however no certain reason was found.

He was one of the most rugged and physically powerful Superstars in WWE history. Smith is known for his appearances with Stampede Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. He was trained by Ted Betley in Winwick, England before relocating to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to further his training under Stu Hart. Along with the Dynamite Kid, he was one half of The British Bulldogs, which became one of the most well known and decorated tag teams in wrestling history.

This ends Part 2 of my list. Look for Part 3 soon.

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  1. dondorian's Avatar
    no chris benoit no? no eddie guerrero? no owen hart? no umaga ? i hope thiers going to be more of these :| alot more wrestlers should of been here by now
  2. jackw9's Avatar
    only one von erich? tbh they has been so many i couldnt blame u for missin some out sad subject Personally i'd say the most famous is randy savage
  3. Dr. Death's Avatar
    There is part 1, part 2, and part 3 for now. Later I'll do some more. I didn't forget about them it's just I'm only allowed so much space for each blog. That's all. Keep reading.
  4. knox's Avatar
    @dondorian, he's clearly saving the most tragic deaths for last, i thought that was obvious. I'd say Chris Benoit will probably end up being #1 and Owen Hart will be #2.

    Great lists Dr. Death and thanks for letting us learn a bit more about these great talents whom lost their lives in tragic fashion. I know your gonna include Dino Bravo who was actually shot in the back of the head because he owed some money to some mobsters.
  5. DK Wrestling Savior's Avatar
    Good Stuff Man. I'm really enjoying this read.

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